CA Man Facing Mag Ban Charges Says "Freedom Week" Purchase Was Legal

California’s ban on magazines that can accept more than ten rounds of ammunition is currently being challenged in court, but in the meantime the state is still attempting to enforce the law on legal gun owners in the state. One Tulare County man is facing charges for possession of a 15-round magazine, but his attorney says the purchase was legal, because it was made during a one-week period when a federal judge had put a hold on enforcement of the state’s law.

Back in January, deputies in Tulare County showed up a home for a parole check. While they were there, officers found a magazine in Pheng Yang’s bedroom. Yang is the brother of the individual on parole, and wasn’t suspected of any crime himself. After the magazine was discovered, however, police arrested him and charged him with illegally possessing the magazine, even though Yang told deputies that the magazine was purchased during “Freedom Week.”

Since the year 2000 in California, it’s been illegal to manufacture, import, sell, give, lend, buy, or receive magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

But on March 29th of 2019, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the ban was unconstitutional and shouldn’t be enforced.
That launched a buying spree across California with gun owners snatching up large-capacity magazines.

About a week later, the same judge decided that the large-capacity magazine ban should continue to be enforced as California’s attorney general took the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

But the judge also said the law could not be enforced against those who bought a high capacity magazine during that one-week gap. And that one week, called Freedom Week, is now the argument in defense of Yang.

Yang’s attorney correctly points out that it’s up to the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Yang didn’t purchase the 15-round magazine during “Freedom Week”, and last week asked for the case against Yang to be dismissed. Unfortunately, a Tulare County judge rejected the argument by defense attorney Eric Schweitzer, and the case is still proceeding to trial.
If convicted, Yang could face up to a year in jail for possessing the magazine, but I’m very curious to see what evidence the Tulare County prosecutors have that would prove Yang’s purchase was illegal. It’s estimated that as many as a million magazines were purchased by California gun owners during “Freedom Week,” and Yang could very well have legally acquired the magazine during that one week grace period. In order for prosecutors to successfully litigate this case, they’re going to have to come up with a receipt or some other proof that Yang’s purchase didn’t take place in late March or early April of last year.
It’s not exactly a shock that a judge is allowing the case to continue, but it remains to be seen just how strong the state’s case against Pheng Yang really is. I’ll be curious to see what, if any, plea deal prosecutors may offer Yang in order to avoid a trial, but if he really did make his purchase during “Freedom Week,” I hope Yang rejects any deal and takes his day in court. The best way to stop this kind of prosecutorial overreach would be do deal them a defeat at trial, and right now it looks like Yang has a pretty good shot at doing just that.